I want to write about coffee this morning.
but to get there, I have to start with Atlas Shrugged, which I am currently re-reading. if you're not familiar with it, this book is Ayn Rand's 1168 page classic, a philosophical novel, or what I call a really really long fable.
the protagonist is Dagny Taggert, a beautiful, intelligent, driven, productive, capable, amazing woman. who smokes. seemingly constantly. she is forever lighting a cigarette, smoking one, having one lit for her, buying cigarettes, lighting one for someone else . . . now I know this novel was written over 60 years ago, but didn't they even have a clue back then that smoking was not the best thing for your health?
what I've decided is that Dagny was Ayn's semi-autobiographical creation, and that Ayn herself was a committed, determined, heavy duty smoker.
okay, that said, now I can turn to coffee.
I drink a lot of coffee every morning. and like the question I asked of myself last week about cycling: is it an addiction? or just a strong habit? and what does it say about me if it is an addiction?
was Dagny addicted to cigarettes, and if so, does that take away from the competent, capable, truly astounding woman she was? was Ayn Rand addicted to cigarettes, and if so, does that make her any less of a philosopher, writer, intellectual, and truly astounding woman that she was?
I love drinking my coffee. I make a small pot each morning, and it has become a very special routine for me. I take one of my favorite mugs, and pour into it an ounce or so of milk. then I warm this for 19 seconds (laugh all you want: I know my idiosyncrasies), and then add coffee and artificial sweetener (another no-no) until I have a mug full of sweet, hot, dark brown fluid that warms me up and makes me smile.
I usually end up zapping my mug in the mircrowave a few times before I fill up again, as I sip on my coffee for hours, in between writing and reading and working and making hot chocolate and lunches and driving kids to school and cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry and whatever else comes up each morning.
my coffee is a caf/decaf mix: 1 to 3 is my current ratio. for me it's not all about the caffeine, it's more about the ritual, the routine, the habit. so I try to just do a little caffeine and a lot not. but here's the thing: I don't really know how significantly I am hooked on this stuff. because I don't want to stop making and drinking my coffee.
could I give it up? I'm sure I could, if I had to.
will I give it up? not unless I absolutely have to.
about the only time I will forgo coffee is when there's neither milk nor artificial sweetner that I like. (I detest splenda, can tolerate equal, and definitely prefer the little pink packet kind.) my mother-in-law used to have a little bottle ~ like the kind you get prescriptions in from the pharmacy ~ with saccharin pills in it, these itsy bitsy teeny little white things that would dissolve in liquid. those are okay with me, but I always felt like some kind of a drug addict when I used one.
you know I am desperate for coffee when I drink it black with real sugar. ick.
you know I've completely lost my mind when I use cream. ugh.
(please pardon the break: I just returned to the computer after leaving for the kitchen to refill my mug of coffee.)
on mornings like this there is also something about holding that warm mug between my hands, feeling the heat through the smooth ceramic surface, knowing that the liquid inside will warm my body and give comfort to my soul. this small event contributes to my sense of well-being: to me it means warmth and security, comfort and luxury. no matter what the rest of my life holds, at the moment I sip from this mug I am safe, warm, happy, and have all of my needs met.
that is a pretty amazing gift from some water, some beans, a little milk, some saccharin, and a beautifully shaped piece of ceramic.
so, like Ayn Rand, I may have certain traits and habits that seem to belie the "I have it all together" posture I present to the world. or like Archilles and every other character in Greek mythology, I, too, have my tragic flaws. and I suppose if drinking my mugfuls of coffee each morning is on that list, I am happy to have it remain there because guess what?
I love my coffee ritual.
especially after a 23-mile early morning ride in the 40 degree dark.
mmm, mmm, aah.